All posts by Tania Alden

About Tania Alden

Tania is a wife, mother and watercolour painter (when she has the time and brain space). She currently lives in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania but holds a special place in her heart for Westville, South Africa where she grew up. She and husband Micah are delighted and exhausted parents to three young children. As the daughter of a minister, married to the son of a minister, New Church ideas have always formed a central and important part of Tania’s family life, but now as a mother, finding ways to communicate and teach these values to young children has given them a new meaning and power. And it is exciting, and daunting, to know that the journey of spiritual understanding is just barely beginning!

The Point of Art

Over the past year I’ve tried several times to put into words the point of art. Or to put it another way, why is art more than just a hobby? What is its greater or spiritual use? I don’t think I have THE answer, or if there even is one, but I wanted to share some thoughts, and I’d love to hear yours!

I know in my gut that art has a profound use and that the world would be pretty bleak without it. Art undoubtedly adds aesthetically to the world, but is that it? It’s not exactly an insignificant role (think of how Heaven is described in the Writings: bursting with beauty of all kinds), but I think there’s more. Creating art or being an artist can easily look and feel like a luxurious hobby next to more “useful” or worthy occupations (doctors, teachers, ministers, counsellors, orphanage managers… to name a few of my most easily guilt-tripping ones). Now comparing the use of relative jobs is a losing game from the beginning, especially in a world which focuses on monetary and external value. Still, this question of arts’ USE is one I’ve pondered and enjoyed seeking to find a satisfying answer to.

While thinking about this question, I came upon this psalm, a jubilant celebration of the Lord’s creation.

“O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions—
This great and wide sea,
In which are innumerable teeming things,
Living things both small and great.”
Psalm 104:24-25

Continue reading The Point of Art

Spiritual Muscles

Everyone should be able to do at least one pull up. Or so I’ve heard. This has never been a reality for me. It’s never bothered me that much either–physical strength and muscle tone just haven’t been a part of my life. I’ve always considered myself as very middling: not UNfit, but never truly fit, and never someone who could be.

Lacking physical strength is a relatively unimportant issue… sort of. Because along with this lack of physical strength came other handicaps that were so much a part of life I didn’t even consider them. My back got easily strained in everyday activities. My calves were always tight, sometimes painfully so. If I put my baby in a carrier for more than 20 minutes my shoulders hurt badly, meaning I seldom wore her. Spiritually speaking these are not important problems, but they were still inconveniences, and ones I never even sought to change because it didn’t occur to me that I could. They were just there, a side effect of being alive.
Continue reading Spiritual Muscles

Anchor To My Trust

Last month brought considerable attention to the prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse when actress Alyssa Milano’s call for victims to post “me too” took social media by storm.

Since this campaign my mind has been preoccupied with what it means to raise children in a world where harassment, and especially sexual abuse, is so common. It’s far too easy to get lost in the dark places in my mind when I think about sexual abuse at all, let alone when it involves children. Dwelling on that subject is something I need to actively work to shun. But there’s a balance too, right?

I also need to actively think about how I will protect my children, how I will help to make this world safer for them. These big, awful issues require a delicate balance between pragmatism and trust. How do we maintain trust and fight the demons of anxiety and fear in a world that is so patently unsafe for innocence? How do we have the trust that allows us to parent without consuming fear? Continue reading Anchor To My Trust

What Makes You Beautiful

I don’t remember the exact age at which I started to feel self conscious about my body, but I know I was twelve when I began to feel that how I was wasn’t just different, but not good enough. All through highschool I yearned to look different, to look and feel like the thinner, casually pretty with hair up in a messy bun and the ever present eyeliner girls in my school. And yeah, high school is an awkward time and who doesn’t feel self conscious and long to fit in better during that time–men and women? But for women, why does this doubt and inadequacy so often center on appearance?

I’ll say now that I have a heap of questions on this topic, and few answers. What I’m most interested in is hearing your thoughts and responses to these questions.

I feel that my story is like that of so many (all?) women. My teenage years held a lot of angst and deep feelings of unworthiness because of how I looked, but I grew past much of that. I accept and appreciate myself and my body far more than I did when I was 16. So why are these feelings of unworthiness and doubt so easy to dredge up? Why are my feelings about my body so deeply tied to my mood, and vice versa? Continue reading What Makes You Beautiful